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The Making of Power and the Land (1940)
Essay by Dr. Robert J. Snyder: Pare Lorentz (1905-1940)
Video Commentary on the Life of Pare Lorentz



PARE LORENTZ: ATER THE FIGHT FOR LIFE
By Dr. Robert J. Snyder, Associate Professor of Broadcasting
Department of Communication Technologies
University of Wisconsin-Platteville

© 2005 Robert J. Snyder. Prepared for Heritage Productions for use
on this web site and reprinted here with permission.

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Post World War II
Shortly after receiving his discharge in 1945 Pare Lorentz reentered government service as Chief of Films, Theater and Music in the Civil Affairs Division, U. S. War Department, for the occupied countries in Europe. Part of their responsibility was to residents of these countries for return to their pre-war occupations.

General Lucius Clay proposed to the Allied Control Commission, meeting in Berlin in 1946, that the four Allied powers pool all films of the International Tribunal and make a full-length documentary of the Nuremberg war crimes trial, using footage of the actual trial. Combat and atrocity footage that was used in evidence during the trial was also discussed for inclusion in the film. The Allied powers agreed that the United States should produce the film. With no experienced motion picture people available to work on the film, the task fell to Lorentz.

Lorentz decided that the film be organized according to the four charges brought against the Nazi leadership during the Nuremberg trial: war crimes, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and conspiracy. The first version of the film was approved for screening for the German people. It was prepared with a German soundtrack. Reaction to the film by the German public and newspapers was very positive. According to Lorentz, the Army of Occupation put representatives in plain clothes in cafes and trinkhauses in the vicinity of the theatres showing the film to gage public reaction.

Lorentz resigned his government post and returned to the United States. The battle with the War Department and the State Department began. The film needed additional editing as a rough cut was shown to the German people. It also needed an English soundtrack. Changes in the film had been recommended by Justice Robert Jackson, one of the prosecutor’s at Nuremberg, and by Lorentz's successor in Germany, Brig. Gen. McClure, and others, but these were not carried out. A special screening was held in New York for an invited audience of writers and critics, including William L. Shirer, John Gunther and Dorothy Thompson. According to Lorentz, only one critic reviewed the film for his paper. The pressure generated by these writers had little effect. Although the Army did announce that 16mm prints would be available from U. S. Signal Corps film libraries, the film was not seen by the American general public until 1961 when the Army granted approval for the film to be included in the television series “Lorentz on Film,” produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, MA.

Lorentz created Pare Lorentz Associates, Inc. in [1]947, in part to get NUREMBERG released. He made several bids to the Army to produce a satisfactory film for release to the American public at his own risk. The Army did not accept any of these bids. He tried to raise funding for other motion picture projects but was unsuccessful.

The Washington Post sent him to Geneva, Switzerland in 1955 to serve as a special correspondent covering the first United Nations Conference on the Peaceful Uses of the Atom. Much of his time subsequently was devoted to developing an outline and script on the dangers of atomic fallout, and on atomic energy. However, no one was interested in supporting a filmmaker of Lorentz ' s reputation in making such a film.

There was a brief entry into the world of politics in 1960. He was appointed a member of the Democratic Advisory Council on Natural Resources. In this capacity he, along with author Rachel Carson (Silent Spring), wrote the pollution platform for the Democratic National Committee.

Lorentz was approached by staff at WGBH-TV, Boston, MA, to assist them in making a 4-part program on his work. An initial meeting was held with the production staff in April with taping set for June, 1961. The last part was the presentation of NUREMBERG. This program series was distributed nationally by NET.


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